Wine & Spirits

By Stef Schwalb

Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, getting wine and spirits as a gift is always appreciated by friends, family, co-workers – and yes – even your boss. It’s a thoughtful, tantalizing way to show appreciation, and of course, a simple solution for bringing people together even during the most awkward events (office holiday parties starring Secret Santa, we’re looking at you). Here’s a roundup of few gifts we think make the grade.

JUSTIN Vineyards Paired with Wonderful Pistachios
Wine and nuts – we go crazy for them. We especially like when a holiday gift pack comes complete with both. Paso Robles-based JUSTIN Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon does just that as it joins jolly forces with Wonderful Pistachios. Priced at $32.50, this is versatile varietal offers a nice balance of acid and tannins and array of aromas ranging from black fruits (like raspberries) to spices (such as cinnamon) plus heavenly hints of tobacco and leather.

Available at

Castello Banfi
La dolce vita comes home for the holidays with a number of food-friendly selections bound to satisfy. This range of tasty Tuscans includes Cum Laude, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah, that works well with bean soups, grilled meats, and medium-aged cheeses; Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Estate Bottled, a powerhouse 100% Sangiovese that pairs well with red meat, game, and aged cheeses; and SummuS Toscana IGT – Estate Bottled, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah that’s a perfect partner for stews, hearty pasta dishes, red meat, and cheese. Suggested retail prices range from $35, $55, and $69, respectively.

Available at

Landmark Vineyards Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Santa and his reindeer, Hanukkah and the dreidel, wine and cheese…you get the drift, right? Some things were just made for one another. That’s why we’re loving Landmark Vineyards holiday gift set (plus the fact that you can choose a red wine or winter-approved white). The 2010 Overlook Chardonnay or the 2010 Grand Detour Pinot Noir come perfectly packaged with a custom wine barrel cheese platter and knife (made from Landmark’s refurbished barrels) and a signed copy of Laura Werlin’s “All American Wine & Cheese Book,” which includes customized cheese recommendations from the “Cheese Queen” herself. The Chardonnay gift pack is available for $90; the Pinot Noir goes for $100.

Available at

Sandeman Founders Reserve Collector’s Tin
The Don does the holidays as Mr. Sandeman brings us a dream with Sandeman Founder’s Reserve Collector’s Tin ($20). The tin features the iconic vintage poster artwork on the outside and includes a bottle of the Founders Reserve, the company’s signature port, on the inside – along with six cocktail recipes. This versatile selection is a sensational seasonal favorite and pairs well with rich chocolates and spiced nuts. For with an even greater passion for port, Sandeman’s finest aged Tawny Ports are also available for purchase in 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-year-old vintages that range in price from $40, $51.99, $99.99 and $137, respectively.

**Special note: There wasn’t enough room in this month’s section for all the great wine and spirits gifts we’d like to tell you about, so be sure to check out City Pulse every Wednesday in December for our special holiday edition of Wine Wednesday winners!

Originally published December 2012
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